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Showing posts from October, 2014

My list of four Must-Read blogs for school leaders

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Leaders are readersThe saying "leaders are readers" has a grain of truth in it. Most successful leaders of different industries are known to be avid readers. Our own Nelson Mandela was an excellent example of being a voracious reader and an active campaigner of reading. Reading articles and books about is a sure fire way to help you grow as a leader.School leaders and those in education need to read as a matter of course. Sadly, there are many school leaders and other education leaders who do not read for leisure or for personal growth. I have been told by some that they do not have time to read and that they are already flooded with their mandatory corporate communication. This mindset is not only shortsighted, but it can be harmful as well to the organisations we are mandated to develop. Independent reading sharpens your cognitive skillsIndependent, personal reading is vital. When you read literature on leadership, your horizons as a leader expand. You gain more knowledge …

Ban the war siren signals used at schools as part of the reculturing process.

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This post is part of the series of making schools more welcoming. I want to talk about the school siren signals that schools must consider changing as part of their reculturing journey.Whenever I hear a school siren at the schools I serve, I am more convinced that schools must get rid of that war cry.

The reason for using the siren and its amplified sounds.

There is a huge difference in the function of an emergency siren sound and a school siren. Wailing Siren noises warn us about impending danger or of an emergency. When we hear these noises, we expect to see an emergency or security vehicle like an ambulance, the police or a fire engine. If we are driving, we will allow such vehicles to pass by, even if it means we have to stop at the green robots. Our response would be appropriate under these circumstances.


Now, let us zoom into one of these schools where we have these factory siren or emergency vehicle sounds. The children at these schools are already highly traumatized. They h…

Make time for yourself

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Are you aware of all the beauty that surrounds us? If you are like me, you are probably also drawn to all the things that can sap our energies. Our family and work lives become so busy that we miss the splendour that surrounds us. But, I am making a concerted effort to find more time to do things that are soul-inspiring.
My passion for taking pictures has raised my awareness of my surroundings. I became excited when I saw this sleeping turtle dove, perched on a yucca leaf. I spent a while watching this turtle dove and tried to study its beak, head and the various feathers. No matter where you look, there will be some form of plant life that can energise you. The shape of a tree trunk, the smell of freshly-mowed grass or even wild flowers that grow in open spaces are there to lift your spirit. Flowers in bloom have a magnetic pull. Here I posted a picture of one of our indigenous plants, the sterilitzia. The intricate design of the sterilitzia enhances its beauty. We should pause a…

Five secrets to improve the Maths performance of Foundation Phase learners

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First, The journey of Maths teachers of three schools on the Cape Flats

Three of our primary schools - Harmony Primary, Steenberg Primary and Prince George Primary - are in a sponsored Maths coaching programme with Brombacher and Associates. The focus is on Foundation Maths teaching. Learners are being taught number sense by learning to count, manipulate, problem-solve and practise. These schools meet once a term with Brombacher to reflect on the successes and challenges they are experiencing.


Today was one of those reflection meetings. The teachers are excited because they are having more fun teaching and their learners are learning better and faster. The teachers were lyrical about the coaches linked to them. Muriel from Harmony Primary School raved about the phenomenal strides many of her learners have made in the past six months and expressed the ambivalence she experienced.


" Many of my children have improved their performance, some far more than others. There are even chil…

This year we attended our third #Senior Year Valedictory

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We have completed our round of valedictories in our family. Sasha, our only daughter, is about to write her Grade 12 finals in a week's time. Goodness, how time flies! Not too long ago, this young woman was in Grade R, then in Grade 7 and now, here she is saying farewell to her school career! The valedictory was a beautiful occasion. Sasha beamed whenever she caught my eye and my heart was pumping red, red roses and pulsating with wondrous joy. I loved the bow and arrow analogy that Mr Price, Bergvliet's principal, used in his address to the valedictorians."Think of the bow as your parents, your teachers, everybody that influenced your life and yourself as the arrow," Mr Price said. The bow has been pulled back far enough to shoot you, the arrow, as far as we, the archers, could. "In other words, we have provided you with all the love, care, support and opportunities in life and now it is entirely up to you to take advantage of the headstart we gave you." …

Turtle doves are living in our garden

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During the autumn months, our yucca tree became a sought after nesting ground. A pair of energetic robins were the first to arrive. They used to have long, lavish baths and worked round the clock to construct their nest. I couldn't wait to see the expansion of this family. The activity slowly wound down and as time passed, I noticed there wasn't much happening in the nest. I didn't even see the robins. The robin family must have relocated from our garden, I thought. 
Then, a few weeks ago, I noticed that we had new arrivals. The nest in the yucca tree is now being occupied by a pair of turtle doves. The other day I saw one of the robins fluttering in the nest and thought the two families had probably set up home together. Not long afterwards, The robin flew off, leaving the turtle doves alone. 
My, my... strange things happen in the world of birds too, I suppose. Apparently doves have this habit of forced occupation. 
Anyway, so now I find myself watching these two birds. The…

How to increase parent involvement at schools

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In an earlier post, I discussed the need for schools to become parent-friendly spaces. At most schools, parents are involved in varying degrees by serving on the School Governing Body, doing voluntary work at the school or attending all the traditional school events. The idea though, is to get the majority of the parents actively involved in their children's learning.Schools that are struggling to engage parents have to explore creative ways to break down the communication barriers. Here is a suggested broad framework to help schools action their family-centred approach.1. The long view: Develop a practical, doable Parent Engagement Strategic plan.


Allow everybody - the School Governing Body, the parents, the learners and the staff - to have their say on how they want to communicate better with one another. Once this Parent or Family advocacy plan has been formulated, share and advocate it to build enthusiasm and support.The main features of such a broad-based, structured programme…

Why parents do not get involved at schools

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I often receive phone calls at our district office from irate, unhappy parents. Most of these parents have been called to a school meeting to discuss their child's ill-discipline. Other parents report that they had gone to a school to make enquiries about admission or the like. These parents complain to our office about the alleged humiliating experience they had received at the respective school on the day of the visit. Parent complaints Many of the complaints are about the way parents are treated by the school when they arrive there. Parents feel they are being ignored and spoken down to. When they arrive at the school, they are made to wait for the principal without any explanation. Nobody smiles with them and often they are not told where to wait for the principal or the teacher who requested the meeting. They say they feel small and invisible. The tone of school staff is abrupt and often closed closed questions are asked. Most of the parents who lodge these complaints, acknow…

My Saturday was filled with family activities only.

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Today was fantastic. The day started on a high note. The birds were having their early morning breakfast talk in the Brazilian pepper tree in our backyard and the sun was already beaming its energy across the skies from seven o clock. My programme was sorted. Today was Brett and Geraldine Time. I was not going to touch anything related to work.
At the #C.T.T.F.A Soccer Finals in Somerset West Our first trip was to the C.T.T.F.A Senior Soccer Knockout Finals held at the De Beers A.F.C soccer fields in Somerset West. Tramway F.C was a finalist in one of the divisions and our eldest son, Brett, was playing. There is very little that can beat the atmosphere at soccer tournaments. Cheering crowds, beer and food gardens, umpire whistles, vuvuzelas - heaven! Tramway had the best supporters in the house. Peter, one of the Brett's teammates, brought along his workers to the tournament. Whenever Peter or any Tramway attacked or defended well, a chorus of approval and cheering vuvuzelas follo…

World Teachers' Day highlights that we should invest in our teachers

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An open letter to all of us who are benefiting from teachers, who have been influenced by teachers and who will still experience the joy of being taught by a teacher:
Today we celebrate World Teachers' Day and once again, we are reminded of the profound role that teachers play. We are also reminded of the role we have to play to nurture our precious resource.The theme of World Teachers' Day, Invest in the future, Invest in Teachers, is well timed. Most of us agree that teaching is "The Mother of all professions" and that teachers are our standard bearers in society. These truths about the impact teachers have on us, have become mere catch phrases. These truths have lost their meaning because our actions contradict these beliefs. Let me explain.Threats that face our teachers
Teachers no longer enjoy prestige in communities. They are undervalued and not appreciated. This loss of respect is part of the fallout of the changes taking place in society. What is more concer…